May 26, 2012

Still not graduating

My sixth year of grad school is almost over. To be honest, it was a very rough year, mostly because of personal problems. I'm finally free of an unhealthy relationship, but getting over the heartbreak has been hard. I really allowed my progress to get derailed -- again -- by distractions that consumed far too much of my time and energy.

Now, I'm scrambling to finish the last case study for my dissertation, and then I need to spend the summer wrapping up the project and preparing for the job market.

Miraculously, I have funding next year. Seventh years don't normally get any work at my university, but one of my committee members offered me a research assistantship. My university actually rejected the appointment at first, because they are becoming very strict about not allowing 7th years to have any financial support whatsoever. So, a few days after getting offered the assistantship, I was informed that I couldn't be hired after all. I was crushed. I e-mailed everyone that I could think of to appeal, but nobody would even respond to my e-mails. But then, a few days later, my professor got them to reverse the decision.

I don't know why my university thinks it's helpful to deny 7th years any sort of funding whatsoever. I can understand cutting off TA funding that comes from the university (even though I don't agree), but this assistantship is funded by my professor's grant money. They just don't want 7th years to have work at all, probably to pressure us to graduate. But only two members of my cohort are graduating this year, so it's not unusual to graduate in 7+ years. Starving us out is cruel and unhelpful.

I hadn't been counting on getting any funding next year, though, so I'm quite lucky to have the assistantship. I'm going to need to take out loans for summer, for health insurance, and to pay off some debt -- but it could be so much worse. Many of my classmates will probably be waitressing and going into much more debt.

I'm determined that this year will be my last, whether I find an academic job or not. My dissertation is so close to being finished that if I can't wrap it up in a year, it will mean that I got hit by a truck or something.

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